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Reel Review

The Stradic FI spinning reel series for the complete range of applications (continued)


Retrieve: The Stradic FI felt smooth during retrieves and just a notch less smooth than the more expensive Sustain FE. When compared with the newer Stradic CI4 reels I found the CI4 both smoother and quieter when cranked quickly. The gearing in the Stradic FI 4000 meshes together well and when fishing lures for stripers including topwater mag spooks the reel felt both efficient and smooth.


Let's take a look under the hood


What Shimano has done a really good job with on the Stradic FI is the Super Stopper II anti-reverse design which uses a one way bearing that absolutely eliminates any back play whatsoever. This implementation results in instant hook setting power, and the machined handle on the Stradic FI threads directly into the drive mechanism so the reel feels very “connected” both when fishing lures and battling fish.


The handle side frame is aluminum the other side is graphite


Drag: Unlike the ultralight reels used for smaller trout I needed a beefier reel with a decent drag system to tackle Steelhead and King Salmon which were just coming back up into the system, many of the fish still had sea lice on them and were in the river for less than 48 hours. I caught many fish while drifting roe but landed a very memorable quality Steelhead buck while fishing on the Klamath River. I really didn’t expect to catch anything other than half pounders early in the day and as the line drifted past me on my very first cast it suddenly surged forward and this particular fish went aerial twice.


The drivetrain is held in place by the graphite sideplate


My drag was dialed pretty far up but not locked down to the point it would rip the hook out of his mouth or snap the line. The waterproof drag in the Stradic FI 4000 performed flawlessly providing smooth stopping power at all times while protecting both the line and the fluorocarbon leader. The Stradic FI is capable of doling out an impressive 20lbs. of stopping power, but power without control is nothing, luckily for me the Stradic’s drag delivered both.


A Klamath River Steelhead succumbs to the Stradic FI's beefy drag


Durability: Shimano’s paladin gear enhancement is designed to strike a better balance between gear smoothness and durability. In the past, gear durability was sacrificed for gear smoothness, or smoothness sacrificed for durability. This is because the harder the gear material, the stronger the durability, but generally the rougher or noisier the drivetrain becomes. Shimano tested a variety of traditional materials in hopes of finding a better option.


Even after two seasons of use a little lube and the reel feels as good as new


Using a special cold forged aluminum drive gear and a hardened brass pinion gear, reels like the Shimano Stradic FI designed to better retain their out of the box smoothness. Shimano also uses “cold forging” process that fabricates metal at normal temperatures and is utilized to build components that achieve the metal's original strength without sacrificing the molecular structure of the metal. So what does this all translate into in terms of long term durability?


The Stradic FI has a thin compact profile


In our tests we noticed that after two years of use the reel was definitely not as smooth as it was originally but after opening it up and examining the reel we determined that a little lubrication was needed on the aluminum drive gear. After applying some oil and grease on the drive gear and surrounding components we found that the reel was just as smooth and quiet as it was the first day it came out of the box. The drivetrain on our Stradic FI test reel held up well through an entire season and survived many battles with steelhead and striped bass without any signs of wear and tear which is more than we can say for many competing spinning reels we have tested in the past that employed all-stainless steel drivetrains.


The reel casts well thanks to the propulsion line management system that isn't just some marketing hype, it actually works


Next Section: Durability cont'd and Price and Applications









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